exam 4

i decided to do exam 4 over….here it goes


Good morning all.  This morning’s discussion will be on both readings we have just heard from two phenomenal theorists Judith Butler and Jasbir Puar. But before I start I would like to first thank you all for giving me the chance of being here on this panel.  My first attempt didn’t pan out exactly as planned, but today I plan on posing a few questions about what we have just heard, while give my personal opinion on the pieces, and hope we all can take something meaningful from this discussion.

            One major point I received from Butler’s piece was that gender and sex are both social constructs. The way I see Butler’s description of “gender” is that it is an ideology in a sense, which makes it an acquired cultural social category/label. And the word “sex,” isn’t to far from that, as Butler views this term as yet another similar category, which stems from social practices. I completely see how exactly this notion of viewing both sex and gender comes about, especially since the two words are used almost interchangeably in our culture today, but there are a number of people, including myself, which view sex as a term used to describe a given person’s genitals.  Whether it was attached since birth, or added on later in life, a person’s genital always meant their sex. This leads me to my first question, is sex truly socially produced, or is it the labels attached to genitals that are socially constructed?

            This topic leads me to the idea of “doing gender,” or as Butler would say it performative gender. Performative gender, which is performances, actions, and or behaviors that are attributed to a particular sex, or as I would say, a particular sex organ, essentially helped create the ideas of what many people view as masculine and feminine. And what I got from Butler was that in order to dismantle the societal idea of gender, one must essentially “mix things up a bit.” But living in the society we live in today which strives to understand things by placing a tag on everything, leaves me to question whether or not “mixing things up,” will even make a difference. What prevents a different type of behavior that necessarily doesn’t easily confined to what is thought to being feminine, or masculine behavior, and what some will believe as being “ungendered,” from being created into some sort of new third gender?

The thought of different labels brings me to Puar’s piece, which she uses the term intersectionality.  What this term represents to me is the natural ability for people to wear many “hats.” For a woman to be a mother, a daughter, a doctor, and African American all shows that people are easily simultaneously placed in numerous categories at the same time. However, as Puar pointed out, intersectionality can possibly favor white women, in comparison to other women. Which leads me to question, since intersectionality can easily divide and further place individuals in different categories, why is it still being used and defended by many theories, in particular feminist today? Can equality be reached when some of those who are fighting for it continue to further emphasize people’s differences?

Before I open the floor for discussion I would like to thank everyone again for this opportunity and hope that I sparked some ideas of your own

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Elizabeth Grosz

So I’m kind of glad this reading was at the end and we didn’t get tested on it because this had me more baffled than Spivak, Puar, and Butler combined. Probably because I failed to see the connection to the Puar and Butler readings. I think it connected more to the idea of the pre-individual versus the subject but in terms of what she called chaos. Chaos; she defines as; “the universe before and independent of how it is organized through conceptual categories and bodily habits…” This made me think of the Body without Organs which would’ve been interesting in a discussion together.

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Exam #2

I think I liked my second exam response out of all the exams we took. I think I included what was needed as well as incorporate how it could affect people of our age group. Here it is:


This is a conversation between my relative Sally and me at a holiday party.

I: Hi Sally, how have you been?

Sally: Hey! I’ve been great. How’ve you been? What are you doing now that you’re a graduate?

I: I’ve been okay. A bit aggravated because Dad doesn’t understand my decision to be an intellectual because he wants me to get married and have kids.

Sally: Oh wow! What in the world is an intellectual? Is that what you kids are learning in school now?

I: Well…according to what I’ve been exposed to; we are all victims entrapped by a social system controlled by injustices that we don’t stand up to. Deleuze states that that is the role of the intellectual, to struggle against power as opposed to just awakening others to the injustices they already know of. That’s what I want to do.

Sally: Well I don’t know what you’re talking about; how can that relate to you or me for that matter?

I: Well a perfect example would be the glass ceiling women hit in their careers that they become aware of but don’t do anything about. Don’t you think it’s unfair that you do the same or MORE work yet your male counterpart becomes your manager and gets the raise?!

Sally: Yes, I’m aware of that but there is nothing we can do. I like my job and it means I have more time to dedicate to my family.

I: That may be so however I’m not willing to settle. Did you know ideology used to be defined as the invisible relationship between individuals to the real life conditions? I read this in an article by Althusser which goes into more depth than you can possibly imagine.

Sally: It seems impossible that women can overcome that injustice. We have to learn to live with it. Why not just settle down and leave it for someone else?

I: It is not impossible. Did you see the question regarding women and that glass ceiling during the second presidential debate? As intellectuals we can come together and dismantle the ideologies which bind us. We can acquire a new state of being which co-exists within society; haven’t you ever heard of a Body without Organs? You have a lot to think about if you want to overcome this injustice.

Sally: A body without organs! Are you mad?!

I: No, I’m not mad. We won’t ever fully acquire it but we can none the less learn to feel as the pre-individual rather than just think like a subject. We need to create theories on how to struggle against this and put them into practice. It is possible, believe me Deleuze once said, “Theory is like a box of tools”; we can learn how to use them and persevere.

Sally: Have you gone mad?! I agree with your father on this. What do you expect? A revolution?!

I: No, not a revolution. Just an overthrow of this dominant injustice. Deleuze also stated the two types of reform. One was the election of a representative of the oppressed and the second is the rise of the oppressed. The second is more of a revolution but we have to see that the first isn’t working. Our representatives just become power-hungry players in furthering the injustices.

Sally: That just isn’t possible. We are perfectly fine because we are accustomed and well-off in this structure.

I: Don’t lie to yourself. Be aware of what’s around you and don’t be silenced by the dominant ideologies of this generation. Bye Sally, ’til next year.

Sally: Bye, please re-think what you’re saying before something radical happens. 

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Exam 4

Since I did well on exam 4, I thought I would put it up on the blog.

Here’s what I wrote.


Hello everyone, I’m honored to have been chosen as the discussant for this panel today. Our speakers, Judith Butler and Jasbir Puar, have just read some of their work to us, and right now I’m going to talk a little bit about what they’ve just read. Hopefully you all have some different interpretations and this will help spark some discussion.

First off, it was a great idea to have these two speak at the same panel, because I feel that while they may not agree on everything, their idea compliment each other. They are both giving us their critique of the feminist movement, Puar explaining the problems with intersectionality, and Butler critiques representational politics, but another thing they are both doing is attempting to find a new way to look at gender that isn’t structured or essentialist but they do it in two very different ways. As most of the world understands it now, gender is a fixed stable thing. You are either a man or a woman and that is that, but Butler and Puar see it differently.

Butler tries to complicate the idea of gender as a stable identity by asking what exactly makes a woman? Is it chromosomes, hormones, sex organs? What is the distinction between male and female, feminine and masculine, man and woman? Many say that the difference is that gender is socially constructed while sex is biologically determined, but Butler suggests that maybe there is no distinction. You just heard her say, “gender is the repeated stylization of the body”. I’d like you to think about what this means to you. My interpretation is that she is saying that perhaps the idea that there is a biological sex is an ideology just like any other ideology. Butler uses a epistemological approach in her examination of gender. In her view, identity is derived through systems of meaning (representations) like ideologies or discourse, but representations do not have to be fixed, and therefore identity categories (like gender) do not have to be fixed.

Puar is also finding a new way to look at gender but in contrast to Butler Puar is using an ontological approach. The difference here is that ontology deals with how things are (or “how things be” if you prefer) and epistemology deals with how we know things. Another way of looking at this is that Puar is talking about what things do and Butler is talking about what things mean. Puar does not subscribe to the old essentialist idea that who you are as a person is fixed. Instead she says there is an “ontological irreducible becoming”. Her idea of ontological becomings describes “events”, and each event can redefine who the person is. Here is an example: a woman is a powerful politician, and goes home to be a wife and a mother, when she visits her parents, she is a daughter. Each of these events changes what being a “woman” is.

Though Butler and Puar have gone about it in different ways their bottom line is the same; there has to be a less rigid (post structuralist if you will) way of looking at gender. The definitions of what it means to be a man or a woman cannot be so strictly defined, because the fact is that we have not figured it out yet.

I’ve told you my interpretation of their work and hopefully that sparked a few ideas of your own, because now we’re going to open up the room for some discussion. I have a few questions for the audience to think about to help facilitate this discussion.

  1. What are your own definitions of sex and gender, and what do you believe is the distinction between the two?
  2. With regards to Puars idea of “events”, do you feel that these types of “events” change what you feel your role is as a man or a woman?
  3. I quoted Butler as saying “gender is a repeated stylization of the body”. I’d like to know if anyone has a different interpretation of this than I do, and then we can ask Butler herself what she means.

Thank you everyone. This was my first time as a discussant, so I hope what I’ve said will effectively start some discussion!

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Judith Butler

Butler’s gender trouble was quite interesting for me. But my only problem is, whether or not if what she want is actually possible. From what i understand she hates labels/categories, and basically wants everyone to do everything “society” doesn’t expect you to. OK this sound lovely in theory but i don’t see this happening. I can’t imagine a world where you have no man or women just human, but who’s to say that Butler even accepts the title human and she might want that titled erased from human memory too. I maybe one of the people that feminist counts as the problem with the world today, but a label less world just seems far fetched.

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Jasbir Puar

Puar’s reading, i must say was by far the most difficult this semester. Because of her writing style, i wasn’t able to properly grasp, (if at all) what she was talking about. The only thing that i believe i understand was the topic of intersectionality. Now being that a number of other feminist have written about the theory, i understand that it’s in a sense taking notice to the different traits, characteristics, or qualities that one person may have. These characteristics maybe race, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, etc, and it’s the claiming of all those things that help create a person. Now what I don’t understand fully is if Puar is against it or not. It seems as if she maybe against it because she questions whether or not if the concept favors white women, but i maybe wrong. So confused with this one…

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Jasbir Puar

Jasbir was a little hard for me to understand. But what I mainly got out of her work in relation to Butler was that she wanted to not have a sense of categorization in society. She, similar to Butler, does not want people to have this notion or checklist on how to judge a person based on their gender, race, or class. She did not want an individual to look at someone else and see whether or not they check off a certain category that helps categorize that persons own identity. Though Puar’s approach is ontological whereas Butler does so through her epistemological approach.

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